Find out about our building works
The National Library is making improvements to our much-loved heritage building. Follow our progress as we protect the collection and maintain our beautiful building by:
Updating part of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system
Improving how we store the collections kept on site
Restoring some of the brass framed heritage windows
Replacing the copper roof that was severely damaged in the 2020 hailstorm
Refurbishing the digitisation and photography labs.
The collection grows, on average, by 2-2.5kms per year. The building improvements have been designed to ensure we use our available space as efficiently as possible and safeguard the collection for future generations.
All building works have relied on the advice of and input from conservators, heritage experts, architects and engineers.
Hear from Doug Walsh, Director of Capital Works at the National Library, about key building activities from November 2023 to January 2024 in our building works November update video.
How our building works will impact you
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
The Library stores part of the collection on site in areas that are not open to the public. When you visit the Library you can request collection material to be delivered to the Reading Rooms. As part of our ongoing stewardship and care for these collections, the Library is upgrading about a third of the HVAC system – focusing on the areas where these collections are stored.
While visitors may hear some noise filtering through to the Reading Rooms, exhibition galleries, Bookplate and Bookshop, the Library took advantage of the lockdowns and continued the HVAC works while the building was closed to the public.
Temporary changes to collection access
Some collection storage areas will be temporarily closed, limiting access to some collection material. The improvements will take place on a rolling basis from 6 June 2022. Different collection storage areas will be impacted at different times.
Library visitors should continue to request collection deliveries to the Reading Rooms as usual.
To help you plan your requests, the following three tables outline what collections are currently unavailable, the collections closing soon, and what is currently available:
Collections currently unavailable
|Collections impacted||Access status|
Pictures Collections - Hanging Art Works on screens
Please contact our Ask A Librarian service service for information about Pictures Collections availability
|Unavailable May 2023 to September 2024|
Collections closing soon
|Collections impacted||Access status|
|Ephemera collections stored on Lower Ground 1||Unavailable February 2024 through to end of April 2024|
|Rare Books and Fragile Collections stored on Level 2||Unavailable 1 June 2024 through to 1 September 2024|
|Asian Collections stored on Level 3||Unavailable 1 July 2024 through to 30 June 2025|
Collections currently available
|All offsite collections||Available|
|Australian Collections (Quarto size) & some serials||Available|
|Australian Formed Collections||Available|
|Newspapers and Microform||Available|
|Oral History Collection||Available|
|Overseas Monographs and Serials||Available|
|Rare & some Asian Language Collections||Available|
|Pictures Collections (excluding Hanging Art Works on screens)||Available|
More information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on our page on temporary changes to collection access.
The ageing window frames on the two sides of the building facing Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and Patrick White Lawns will be gradually replaced from March to October 2023.
The windows on the ground floor, including the stained-glass windows, are not being replaced over this time period – the work will happen on level 1 to level 4.
Scaffolding and hoardings will be installed so the windows can be replaced and there will be some noise filtering through into the building.
Interesting fact - the windows are installed vertically – and will be replaced vertically.
The gleaming copper sheeting has been installed, building works are continuing underneath the roof. Level 4 of the building is closed to the public while the roof works are underway.
Improvements to digitisation and photography areas
One way the Library provides access to its collections is by creating and making accessible on Trove digital copies of physical collection material (digitisation). The workspaces devoted to this work have been modernised and increased in size in order to meet the growing demand for digitised content. This work was completed in 2022.
These projects have been funded by the Australian Government, including from the Library’s annual appropriation or special projects funding. Insurance is helping fund the roof restoration.